Chief Jacob Folorunsho Adedokun is a renowned educationist, who retired as Permanent Secretary Establishment and Training, Governor’s Office, Kwara State in 2003 and now the National President of Erin-Ile Progressive Union. He marked 70 years birthday on Saturday. He shares his views with PILOT EDUCATION, on education sector and his life at 70. Excerpts:
How has life in retirement been so far?
Personally, I don’t feel anything. There is not much job to do because I was very much active in the service especially as a teacher. A teacher is always very active. All put together, I taught for about 28 years. If I taught for 28 years, it has become part and parcel of me. I couldn’t be idle again. I don’t feel much difference only that I couldn’t do as much job as I used to do while in service now that I am in retirement.
As an Educationist, you are quite aware of the challenges facing the education sector, what do you think is the genesis of this rot in the system?
If you go through educational psychology theories, I hardly judge Nigerians on the fact of the education system being high or low. If we say our standard is low, then it involves everybody. The government is involved. The parents are involved. The society is involved. The pupils or students themselves are involved. Government in the sense that there are so many areas to be covered having taken over voluntary agents schools from the owners. Government thought it could manage it but it is not easy. I attended an Anglican School, and Anglican Church was in charge of everything pertaining to the school though we had so little problems here and there but it was not as much as what we have today. We wouldn’t have dilapidated building because the church would have built it. We had some many good supervisors and teachers even though they paraded Grade II Certificate. But that designation did not prevent them from doing their jobs very well. When we were in the secondary schools, the kind of English we were speaking particularly when we got to the senior class, not many university students can speak such good English today. So, such shortfall would not be one person’s fault. It cuts across all the system. In our days, even though our parents were illiterates, they were very serious about our education and they checked our cards every week. My father was illiterate but anytime he saw red mark on the card he knew something must have gone wrong there. No parent does that these days. In fact, many pupils or students don’t even know the reason they go to school unlike those days when we were taught moral and encouraging teachings. Then, teachers, I am sorry to say, they are my colleagues; but teachers now are not as serious as in those days. We were thought by Grade II and III teachers who we would put on secondary school level of today but they were better than those who parade graduates certificates today. Go to the classroom and listen to the kind of English teachers speak. It’s very embarrassing. There is a primary school in front of my house here. A teacher brought a pupil to me and she was asking the pupil some questions. She asked the pupil, “What did you told me in the class.” I felt somehow, and that is the kind of English pupils listen to. It is a crime to speak poor or bad English for Pupils to hear.
Do you share the belief that public schools have been killed?
I won’t say they have been killed. You could say they are sick, but they are not yet dead. Somehow we now see people coming up with good schools in terms of building. Some buildings are being funded by financial aid from the Federal Government. But when we talk, we are not particular about the buildings or structures in schools of today. We were referring to products of those schools. I just spoke about teachers now; pupils of today are very lazy. They want their teachers to write everything for them or they demand handouts. They won’t read at the library. I have two children at the University of Ilorin. I used to check their notes and I could see crimes committed by those lecturers.
What solution would you proffer to these challenges?
I wouldn’t know how to go about the solution. If you want to go to heaven, then, you have to prepare yourself for heaven. If you are hungry, and hunger is the problem that has been making you shout on everybody; we have known the cause of your shouting which is hunger, then, we give you food. Once, you eat; your behaviour changes. That is for the education. So, having identified the problems, let those problems be addressed.
How do you feel being 70. And did you envisage you will ever be 70?
Well, I have always put my hopes in God because it is only Him who decides. The Bible says, “I will do this or that if God permits”. You may wish to be this or that but God may say no. All we need to do is to pray. But for me, all my life I never struggle for anything. I only spend money that comes to me. If it does not come, that is all. But for me to be thinking of becoming a millionaire, No. Some years back, a banker promised to give me N1million loan and I told him I did not need it. If he had given me the money I would be thinking of repayment and how to even spend the money. I may not even sleep over night. From there, I might develop hypertension. So, I told him I didn’t need it. I don’t want problem. For me, being 70, I am unruffled. I just accept things as they come. I just pray to God to give me long life if He wants. If I say I want to be 90 and God says No, what can I do?